Democratic Republic of the Congo explained

Native Name:
République démocratique du Congo
Conventional Long Name:Democratic Republic of the Congo
Common Name:the Democratic Republic of the Congo
National Drink:Um Bongo
National Motto:Justice – Paix – Travail
(French)
"Justice – Peace – Work"
National Anthem:"Debout Congolais"
(French)
"Arise, Congolese"
Official Languages:French
National Languages:Lingala, Kikongo, Swahili, Tshiluba
Demonym:Congolese
Capital:Kinshasa
Latd:4
Latm:19
Latns:S
Longd:15
Longm:19
Longew:E
Largest City:capital
Government Type:Semi-presidential republic
Leader Title1:President
Leader Name1:Joseph Kabila
Leader Title2:Acting Prime Minister
Leader Name2:Louis Alphonse Koyagialo
Area Km2:2,345,409
Area Sq Mi:905,355
Area Rank:11th
Area Magnitude:1 E+12
Percent Water:4.3
Population Estimate:71,712,867[1]
Population Estimate Year:2011
Population Estimate Rank:19th
Population Density Km2:29.3
Population Density Sq Mi:75.9
Population Density Rank:182nd
Gdp Ppp Year:2010
Gdp Ppp:$23.117 billion[2]
Gdp Ppp Per Capita:$328
Gdp Nominal Year:2010
Gdp Nominal:$13.125 billion
Gdp Nominal Per Capita:$186
Hdi Year:2011
Hdi: 0.286[3]
Hdi Rank:187th (lowest)
Hdi Category:low
Sovereignty Type:Independence
Established Event1:from Belgium
Established Date1:30 June 1960
Currency:Congolese franc
Currency Code:CDF
Time Zone:WAT, CAT
Utc Offset:+1 to +2
Time Zone Dst:not observed
Utc Offset Dst:+1 to +2
Drives On:Right
Iso3166code:CD
Cctld:.cd
Calling Code:243
Footnotes:a Estimate is based on regression; other PPP figures are extrapolated from the latest International Comparison Programme benchmark estimates.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (French: République démocratique du Congo), commonly referred to as DR Congo, Congo-Kinshasa or the DRC, is a country located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area since the accession of South Sudan as an independent country and the eleventh largest in the world. With a population of over 71 million,[1] the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the nineteenth most populous nation in the world, the fourth most populous nation in Africa, as well as the most populous officially Francophone country.

It borders the Central African Republic and South Sudan to the north; Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi in the east; Zambia and Angola to the south; the Republic of the Congo, the Angolan exclave of Cabinda, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west; and is separated from Tanzania by Lake Tanganyika in the east.[1] The country has access to the ocean through a 40km stretch of Atlantic coastline at Muanda and the roughly 9 km wide mouth of the Congo River which opens into the Gulf of Guinea.

The Second Congo War, beginning in 1998, devastated the country and is sometimes referred to as the "African world war" because it involved nine African nations and some twenty armed groups.[4] Despite the signing of peace accords in 2003, fighting continues in the east of the country. In eastern Congo, the prevalence of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world.[5] The war is the world's deadliest conflict since World War II, killing 5.4 million people since 1998.[6] [7] The vast majority died from conditions of malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition.[8]

The Democratic Republic of the Congo was formerly, in chronological order, the Congo Free State, Belgian Congo, Congo-Léopoldville, Congo-Kinshasa, and Zaire (Zaïre in French).[1] These former names are sometimes referred to as unofficial names, with the exception of Mobutu's discredited Zaire, along with various abbreviations such as Congo, Congo-Kinshasa, DR Congo and DRC. Though it is located in the Central African UN subregion, the nation is also economically and regionally affiliated with Southern Africa as a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

History

See main article: History of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Early history

See main article: Early Congolese history.

A wave of early people was identified in the northern and north-western parts of central Africa during the second millennium BC. They produced food (pearl millet), maintained domestic livestock and developed a kind of arboriculture mainly based on the oil palm.From BC to BC, starting from a nucleus area in south Cameroon on both banks of the Sanaga River, the first Neolithic peopling of northern and western central Africa can be followed south-eastwards and southwards.

In D.R. Congo, the first villages in the vicinity of Mbandaka and the Lake Tumba are known as the Imbonga Traditions, from around BC. In Lower Congo, north of the Angolan border, it is the 'Ngovo Tradition' around BC that shows the arrival of the Neolithic wave of advance.

In Kivu, across the country to the east, the Urewe Tradition villages first appeared about BC. The few archaeological sites known in Congo are a western extension of the Urewe culture which has been found chiefly in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and western Kenya and Tanzania. From the start of this tradition, the people knew iron smelting, as is evidenced by several iron-smelting furnaces excavated in Rwanda and Burundi.

The earliest evidence further to the west is known in Cameroon and near to the small town of Bouar in Central Africa. Though further studies are needed to establish a better chronology for the start of iron production in Central Africa, the Cameroonian data places iron smelting north of the Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests around BC to BC. This technology developed independently from the previous Neolithic expansion, some 900 years later. As fieldwork done by a German team shows, the Congo River network was slowly settled by food-producing villagers going upstream in the forest. Work from a Spanish project in the Ituri area further east suggests villages reached there only around BC.

The supposedly Bantu-speaking Neolithic and then iron-producing villagers added to and displaced the indigenous Pygmy populations (also known in the region as the "Batwa" or "Twa") into secondary parts of the country. Subsequent migrations from the Darfur and Kordofan regions of Sudan into the north-east, as well as East Africans migrating into the eastern Congo, added to the mix of ethnic groups. The Bantu-speakers imported a mixed economy made up of agriculture, small-stock raising, fishing, fruit collecting, hunting and arboriculture before BP; iron-working techniques, possibly from West Africa, a much later addition. The villagers established the Bantu language family as the primary set of tongues for the Congolese.

The process in which the original Upemba society transitioned into the Kingdom of Luba was gradual and complex. This transition ran without interruption, with several distinct societies developing out of the Upemba culture prior to the genesis of the Luba. Each of these kingdoms became very wealthy due mainly to the region's mineral wealth, especially in ores. The civilization began to develop and implement iron and copper technology, in addition to trading in ivory and other goods. The Luba established a strong commercial demand for their metal technologies and were able to institute a long-range commercial net (the business connections extended over 1,500 kilometres (930 mi), all the way to the Indian Ocean). By the 16th century, the kingdom had an established strong central government based on chieftainship. The Eastern regions of the precolonial Congo were heavily disrupted by constant slave raiding, mainly from Arab/Zanzibari slave traders such as the infamous Tippu Tip.[9]

The African Congo Free State (1877–1908)

See main article: Colonisation of the Congo, Congo Free State and Belgian Congo. European exploration and administration took place from the 1870s until the 1920s. It was first led by Sir Henry Morton Stanley, who undertook his explorations under the sponsorship of King Leopold II of Belgium. Leopold had designs on what was to become the Congo as a colony.[10] In a succession of negotiations, Leopold – professing humanitarian objectives in his capacity as chairman of the Association Internationale Africaine – played one European rival against another.

Leopold formally acquired rights to the Congo territory at the Conference of Berlin in 1885 and made the land his private property and named it the Congo Free State.[10] Leopold's regime began various infrastructure projects, such as construction of the railway that ran from the coast to the capital of Leopoldville (now Kinshasa). It took years to complete. Nearly all such projects were aimed at increasing the capital which Leopold and his associates could extract from the colony, leading to exploitation of Africans.[11]

In the Free State, colonists brutalized the local population to produce rubber, for which the spread of automobiles and development of rubber tires created a growing international market. The sale of rubber made a fortune for Leopold, who built several buildings in Brussels and Ostend to honor himself and his country. To enforce the rubber quotas, the army, the Force Publique (FP), was called in. The Force Publique made the practice of cutting off the limbs of the natives as a means of enforcing rubber quotas a matter of policy; this practice was widespread. During the period of 1885–1908, millions of Congolese died as a consequence of exploitation and disease. In some areas the population declined dramatically; it has been estimated that sleeping sickness and smallpox killed nearly half the population in the areas surrounding the lower Congo River.[12] A government commission later concluded that the population of the Congo had been "reduced by half" during this period,[13] but determining precisely how many people died is impossible, as no accurate records exist.

The actions of the Free State's administration sparked international protests led by British reporter Edmund Dene Morel and British diplomat/Irish rebel Roger Casement, whose 1904 report on the Congo condemned the practice. Famous writers such as Mark Twain and Arthur Conan Doyle also protested, and Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness was set in Congo Free State.

Belgian Congo (1908–1960)

In 1908, the Belgian parliament, despite initial reluctance, bowed to international pressure (especially that from Great Britain) and took over the Free State as a Belgian colony from the king. From then on, it was called the Belgian Congo and was under the rule of the elected Belgian government. The government improved significantly and a considerable economic and social progress was achieved. The white colonial rulers had, however, generally a condescending, patronizing attitude against the indigenous peoples, which led to bitter resentment.

During World War II, the Congolese army achieved several victories against the Italians in North Africa.

Political crisis (1960–1965)

See main article: Congo Crisis.

In May 1960, a growing nationalist movement, the Mouvement National Congolais or MNC Party, led by Patrice Lumumba, won the parliamentary elections. The party appointed Lumumba as Prime Minister. The parliament elected as President Joseph Kasavubu, of the Alliance des Bakongo (ABAKO) party. Other parties that emerged included the Parti Solidaire Africain (or PSA) led by Antoine Gizenga, and the Parti National du Peuple (or PNP) led by Albert Delvaux and Laurent Mbariko. (Congo 1960, dossiers du CRISP, Belgium) The Belgian Congo achieved independence on 30 June 1960 under the name "République du Congo" ("Republic of Congo" or "Republic of the Congo" in English). Shortly after independence, the provinces of Katanga (led by Moise Tshombe) and South Kasai engaged in secessionist struggles against the new leadership.[14] Most of the 100,000 Europeans who had remained behind after independence fled the country,[15] opening the way for Congolese to replace the European military and administrative elite.[16] As the French colony of Middle Congo (Moyen Congo) also chose the name "Republic of Congo" upon achieving its independence, the two countries were more commonly known as "Congo-Léopoldville" and "Congo-Brazzaville", after their capital cities. Another way they were often distinguished during the 1960s, such as in newspaper articles, was that "Congo-Léopoldville" was called "The Congo" and "Congo-Brazzaville" was called simply "Congo".

On 5 September 1960, Kasavubu dismissed Lumumba from office. Lumumba declared Kasavubu's action unconstitutional and a crisis between the two leaders developed. (cf. Sécession au Katanga – J.Gerald-Libois -Brussels- CRISP)Lumumba had previously appointed Joseph Mobutu chief of staff of the new Congo army, Armée Nationale Congolaise (ANC). Taking advantage of the leadership crisis between Kasavubu and Lumumba, Mobutu garnered enough support within the army to create mutiny. With financial support from the United States and Belgium, Mobutu paid his soldiers privately. The aversion of Western powers to communism and leftist ideology influenced their decision to finance Mobutu's quest to maintain "order" in the new state by neutralizing Kasavubu and Lumumba in a coup by proxy. A constitutional referendum after Mobutu's coup of 1965 resulted in the country's official name being changed to the "Democratic Republic of the Congo."[1] In 1971 it was changed again to "Republic of Zaïre."

On 17 January 1961, Katangan forces and Belgian paratroops – supported by the United States' and Belgium's intent on copper and diamond mines in Katanga and South Kasai – kidnapped and executed Patrice Lumumba. Amidst widespread confusion and chaos, a temporary government was led by technicians (Collège des Commissaires) with Evariste Kimba. The Katanga secession was ended in January 1963 with the assistance of UN forces. Several short-lived governments, of Joseph Ileo, Cyrille Adoula, and Moise Tshombe, took over in quick succession.

Zaire (1971–1997)

See main article: Zaire. The new president Mobutu Sese Seko had the support of the United States because of his staunch opposition to Communism. Western powers appeared to believe this would make him a roadblock to Communist schemes in Africa.

A one-party system was established, and Mobutu declared himself head of state. He periodically held elections in which he was the only candidate.Relative peace and stability were achieved; however, Mobutu's government was guilty of severe human rights violations, political repression, a cult of personality and corruption. (Mobutu demanded every Congolese banknote printed with his image, hanging of his portrait in all public buildings, most businesses, and on billboards; and it was common for ordinary people to wear his likeness on their clothing.)

Corruption became so prevalent the term "le mal Zairois" or "Zairean Sickness" [17] was coined, reportedly by Mobutu himself.[18] By 1984, Mobutu was said to have $4 billion (USD), an amount close to the country's national debt, deposited in a personal Swiss bank account. International aid, most often in the form of loans, enriched Mobutu while he allowed national infrastructure such as roads to deteriorate to as little as one-quarter of what had existed in 1960. Zaire became a "kleptocracy" as Mobutu and his associates embezzled government funds.

In a campaign to identify himself with African nationalism, starting on 1 June 1966, Mobutu renamed the nation's cities: Léopoldville became Kinshasa [the country was now Democratic Republic of The Congo – Kinshasa], Stanleyville became Kisangani, Elisabethville became Lubumbashi, and Coquihatville became Mbandaka. This renaming campaign was completed in the 1970s.In 1971, Mobutu renamed the country the Republic of Zaire, its fourth name change in 11 years and its sixth overall. The Congo River was renamed the Zaire River. In 1972, Mobutu renamed himself Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (translated as "the all powerful warrior who, because of his endurance and inflexible will to win, shall go from conquest to conquest, leaving fire in his wake"[19]).

During the 1970s and 1980s, Mobutu was invited to visit the United States on several occasions, meeting with U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. In June 1989, Mobutu was the first African head of state invited for a state visit with newly elected President Bush.[20] Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, however, U.S. relations with Mobutu cooled, as he was no longer deemed necessary as a Cold War ally.

Opponents within Zaire stepped up demands for reform. This atmosphere contributed to Mobutu's declaring the Third Republic in 1990, whose constitution was supposed to pave the way for democratic reform. The reforms turned out to be largely cosmetic. Mobutu continued in power until the conflict forced him to flee Zaire in 1997. Thereafter, the nation chose to reclaim its name of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, since the name Zaire carried such strong connections to the rule of Mobutu.

Rwandan/Ugandan invasions and civil wars

See main article: First Congo War, Second Congo War and Kivu Conflict. By 1996, tensions from the neighbouring Rwandan Civil War and Rwandan Genocide had spilled over to Zaire. Rwandan Hutu militia forces (Interahamwe), who had fled Rwanda following the ascension of a Tutsi-led government, had been using Hutu refugees camps in eastern Zaire as a basis for incursion against Rwanda. These Hutu militia forces soon allied with the Zairian armed forces (FAZ) to launch a campaign against Congolese ethnic Tutsis in eastern Zaire.[21]

In turn, a coalition of Rwandan and Ugandan armies invaded Zaire under the cover of a small group of Tutsi militia to fight the Hutu militia, overthrow the government of Mobutu, and ultimately control the mineral resources of Zaire. They were soon joined by various Zairean politicians, who had been unsuccessfully opposing the dictatorship of Mobutu for many years, and now saw an opportunity for them in the invasion of Zaire by two of the region's strongest military forces.

This new expanded coalition of two foreign armies and some longtime opposition figures, led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila, became known as the Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo-Zaïre (AFDL). They were seeking the broader goal of ousting Mobutu and controlling his country's wealth. In May 1997, Mobutu fled the country and Kabila marched into Kinshasa, naming himself president and reverting the name of the country to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.A few months later, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila thanked all the foreign military forces that helped him to overthrow Mobutu, and asked them to return back to their countries because he was very fearful and concerned that the Rwandan military officers who were running his army were plotting a coup d'état against him in order to give the presidency to a Tutsi who would report directly to the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. This move was not well received by the Rwandan and Ugandan governments, who wanted to control their big neighbour.

Consequently, Rwandan troops in DRC retreated to Goma and launched a new militia group or rebel movement called the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD), led by Tutsis, to fight against their former ally, President Laurent-Désiré Kabila. To counterbalance the power and influence of Rwanda in DRC, the Ugandan troops instigated the creation of another rebel movement called the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), led by the Congolese warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba, son of Congolese billionaire Bemba Saolona. The two rebel movements started the second war by attacking the DRC's still fragile army in 1998, backed by Rwandan and Ugandan troops. Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia became involved militarily on the side of the government to defend a fellow SADC member.

Kabila was assassinated in 2001 and was succeeded by his son Joseph, who upon taking office called for multilateral peace talks to end the war. In February 2001 a peace deal was brokered between Kabila, Rwanda and Uganda, leading to the apparent withdrawal of foreign troops. UN peacekeepers, MONUC, arrived in April 2001. The conflict was reignited in January 2002 by ethnic clashes in the northeast, and both Uganda and Rwanda then halted their withdrawal and sent in more troops. Talks between Kabila and the rebel leaders led to the signing of a peace accord in which Kabila would share power with former rebels. By June 2003 all foreign armies except those of Rwanda had pulled out of Congo. Much of the conflict was focused on gaining control of substantial natural resources in the country, including diamonds, copper, zinc, and coltan.[22]

DR Congo had a transitional government until the election was over. A constitution was approved by voters, and on 30 July 2006 the Congo held its first multi-party elections since independence in 1960. After this Joseph Kabila took 45% of the votes and his opponent, Jean-Pierre Bemba took 20%. The disputed results of this election turned into an all-out battle between the supporters of the two parties in the streets of the capital, Kinshasa, from 20–22 August 2006 . Sixteen people died before police and the UN mission MONUC took control of the city. A new election was held on 29 October 2006, which Kabila won with 70% of the vote. Bemba made multiple public statements saying the election had "irregularities", despite the fact that every neutral observer praised the elections. On 6 December 2006 the Transitional Government came to an end as Joseph Kabila was sworn in as President.

The fragility of the state government has allowed continued conflict and human rights abuses. In the ongoing Kivu conflict, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) continues to threaten the Rwandan border and the Banyarwanda; Rwanda supports RCD-Goma rebels against Kinshasa; a rebel offensive at the end of October 2008 caused a refugee crisis in Ituri, where MONUC has proved unable to contain the numerous militia and groups driving the Ituri conflict. In the northeast, Joseph Kony's LRA moved from their original bases in Uganda (where they have fought a 20-year rebellion) and South Sudan to DR Congo in 2005 and set up camps in the Garamba National Park.[23] [24] In northern Katanga, the Mai-Mai created by Laurent Kabila slipped out of the control of Kinshasa. The war is the world's deadliest conflict since World War II, killing 5.4 million people.[6]

Impact of armed conflict on civilians

In 2009, people in the Congo may still be dying at a rate of an estimated 45,000 per month,[25] and estimates of the number who have died from the long conflict range from 900,000 to 5,400,000.[26] The death toll is due to widespread disease and famine; reports indicate that almost half of the individuals who have died are children under the age of 5. This death rate has prevailed since efforts at rebuilding the nation began in 2004.[27]

The long and brutal conflict in the DRC has caused massive suffering for civilians, with estimates of millions dead either directly or indirectly as a result of the fighting. There have been frequent reports of weapon bearers killing civilians, destroying property, widespread sexual violence,[28] causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes or otherwise breaching humanitarian and human rights law. An estimated 200,000 women have been raped.[29]

Few people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been unaffected by the armed conflict. A survey conducted in 2009 by the ICRC and Ipsos shows that three quarters (76%) of the people interviewed have been affected in some way–either personally or due to the wider consequences of armed conflict.[30]

In 2003, Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, told the UN's Indigenous People's Forum that during the war, his people were hunted down and eaten as though they were game animals. In neighbouring North Kivu province there has been cannibalism by a group known as Les Effaceurs ("the erasers") who wanted to clear the land of people to open it up for mineral exploitation.[31] Both sides of the war regarded them as "subhuman" and some say their flesh can confer magical powers.[32]

International Community Response

The response of the international community has been incommensurate with the scale of the disaster resulting from the war in the Congo. Its support for political and diplomatic efforts to end the war has been relativelyconsistent, but it has taken no effective steps to abide by repeated pledges to demand accountability for the war crimes and crimes against humanity that were routinely committed in Congo. United Nations Security Council and the U.N. Secretary-General have frequently denounced human rights abuses and the humanitarian disaster that the war unleashed on the local population. But they had shown little will to tackle the responsibility of occupying powers for the atrocities taking place in areas under their control, areas where the worst violence in the country took place. Hence Rwanda, like Uganda, has escaped any significant sanction for its role. [33]

Geography

See main article: Geography of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Congo is situated at the heart of sub-Saharan Africa and is bounded by (clockwise from the southwest) Angola, the South Atlantic Ocean, the Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania across Lake Tanganyika, and Zambia. The country lies between latitudes 6°N and 14°S, and longitudes 12° and 32°E. It straddles the Equator, with one-third to the North and two-thirds to the South. The size of Congo, 2345408km2, is slightly greater than the combined areas of Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, and Norway.

As a result of its equatorial location, the Congo experiences high precipitation and has the highest frequency of thunderstorms in the world. The annual rainfall can total upwards of 80inches in some places, and the area sustains the Congo Rainforest, the second largest rain forest in the world (after that of the Amazon). This massive expanse of lush jungle covers most of the vast, low-lying central basin of the river, which slopes toward the Atlantic Ocean in the west. This area is surrounded by plateaus merging into savannas in the south and southwest, by mountainous terraces in the west, and dense grasslands extending beyond the Congo River in the north. High, glaciated mountains are found in the extreme eastern region (Rwenzori Mountains).

The tropical climate has also produced the Congo River system which dominates the region topographically along with the rainforest it flows through, though they are not mutually exclusive. The name for the Congo state is derived in part from the river. The river basin (meaning the Congo River and all of its myriad tributaries) occupies nearly the entire country and an area of nearly 1000000km2. The river and its tributaries (major offshoots include the Kasai, Sangha, Ubangi, Aruwimi, and Lulonga) form the backbone of Congolese economics and transportation. They have a dramatic impact on the daily lives of the people.

The sources of the Congo are in the Albertine Rift Mountains that flank the western branch of the East African Rift, as well as Lake Tanganyika and Lake Mweru. The river flows generally west from Kisangani just below Boyoma Falls, then gradually bends southwest, passing by Mbandaka, joining with the Ubangi River, and running into the Pool Malebo (Stanley Pool). Kinshasa and Brazzaville are on opposite sides of the river at the Pool (see NASA image).

Then the river narrows and falls through a number of cataracts in deep canyons (collectively known as the Livingstone Falls), and then running past Boma into the Atlantic Ocean. The river also has the second-largest flow and the second-largest watershed of any river in the world (trailing the Amazon in both respects). The river and a 45 km wide strip of land on its north bank provide the country's only outlet to the Atlantic.

The previously mentioned Albertine Rift plays a key role in shaping the Congo's geography. Not only is the northeastern section of the country much more mountainous, but due to the rift's tectonic activities, this area also experiences volcanic activity, occasionally with loss of life. The geologic activity in this area also created the famous African Great Lakes, three of which lie on the Congo's eastern frontier: Lake Albert (known previously as Lake Mobutu), Lake Edward, and Lake Tanganyika.

The Rift Valley has exposed an enormous amount of mineral wealth throughout the south and east of the Congo, making it accessible to mining. Cobalt, copper, cadmium, industrial and gem-quality diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, germanium, uranium, radium, bauxite, iron ore, and coal are all found in plentiful supply, especially in the Congo's southeastern Katanga region.On 17 January 2002 Mount Nyiragongo erupted in Congo, with the lava running out at 40mi/h and 50yd wide. One of the three streams of extremely fluid lava flowed through the nearby city of Goma, killing 45 and leaving 120,000 homeless. Four hundred thousand people were evacuated from the city during the eruption. The lava poisoned the water of Lake Kivu, killing fish. Only two planes left the local airport because of the possibility of the explosion of stored petrol. The lava passed the airport but ruined the runway, entrapping several airplanes. Six months after the 2002 eruption, nearby Mount Nyamulagira also erupted. Mount Nyamulagira also erupted in 2006 and again in January 2010. Both of these active volcanoes are located within the boundaries of Virunga National Park.

World Wide Fund for Nature ecoregions located in the Congo include:

World Heritage Sites located in Democratic Republic of Congo are:Virunga National Park (1979),Garamba National Park (1980),Kahuzi-Biega National Park (1980),Salonga National Park (1984) andOkapi Wildlife Reserve (1996).

Provinces

See main article: Provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Districts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Territories of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The country is divided into 10 provinces and one city-province:[1]

  1. Bandundu
  2. Bas-Congo
  3. Équateur
  4. Kasai-Occidental
  5. Kasai-Oriental
  6. Katanga
  7. Kinshasa (city-province)
  8. Maniema
  9. North Kivu
  10. Orientale
  11. South Kivu

The provinces are subdivided into districts which are divided into territories.

Population of major cities (2008)
CityPopulation (2008)
Kinshasa7,500,000
Mbuji-Mayi2,500,000
Lubumbashi1,700,000
Kananga1,400,000
Kisangani1,200,000
Kolwezi1,100,000
Mbandaka850,000
Likasi600,000
Boma600,000

Government

See main article: Politics of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After a four-year interim between two constitutions that established new political institutions at the various levels of all branches of government, as well as new administrative divisions for the provinces throughout the country, politics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have finally settled into a stable presidential democratic republic.The 2003 transitional constitution[34] established a system composed of a bicameral legislature with a Senate and a National Assembly. The Senate had, among other things, the charge of drafting the new constitution of the country. The executive branch was vested in a 60-member cabinet, headed by a President and four vice presidents. The President was also the Commander-in Chief of the armed forces.

The transition constitution also established a relatively independent judiciary, headed by a Supreme Court with constitutional interpretation powers.

The 2006 constitution, also known as the Constitution of the Third Republic, came into effect in February 2006. It had concurrent authority, however, with the transitional constitution until the inauguration of the elected officials who emerged from the July 2006 elections. Under the new constitution, the legislature remained bicameral; the executive was concomitantly undertaken by a President and the government, led by a Prime Minister, appointed from the party with the majority at the National Assembly. The government  – not the President  – is responsible to the Parliament.

The new constitution also granted new powers to the provincial governments with the creation of provincial parliaments, which have oversight over the Governor, head of the provincial government, whom they elect.

The new constitution also saw the disappearance of the Supreme Court, which was divided into three new institutions. The constitutional interpretation prerogative of the Supreme Court is now held by the Constitutional Court.

Corruption

Mobutu Sese Seko ruled Zaire from 1965 to 1997. A relative explained how the government illicitly collected revenue: "Mobutu would ask one of us to go to the bank and take out a million. We'd go to an intermediary and tell him to get five million. He would go to the bank with Mobutu's authority, and take out ten. Mobutu got one, and we took the other nine."[35] Mobutu institutionalized corruption to prevent political rivals from challenging his control, leading to an economic collapse in 1996.[36] Mobutu allegedly stole up to US$4 billion while in office;[37] in July 2009, a Swiss court determined that the statute of limitations had run out on an international asset recovery case of about $6.7 million of deposits of Mobutu's in a Swiss bank, and therefore the assets should be returned to Mobutu's family.[38]

President Joseph Kabila established the Commission of Repression of Economic Crimes upon his ascension to power in 2001.[39]

Foreign relations and military

See also: Foreign relations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Military of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The global growth in demand for scarce raw materials and the industrial surges in China, India, Russia, Brazil and other developing countries require that developed countries employ new, integrated and responsive strategies for identifying and ensuring, on a continual basis, an adequate supply of strategic and critical materials required for their security needs. Highlighting the DR Congo's importance to United States national security, the effort to establish an elite Congolese unit is the latest push by the U.S. to professionalize armed forces in this strategically important region.

There are economic and strategic incentives to bringing more security to the Congo, which is rich in natural resources such as cobalt. Cobalt is a strategic and critical metal used in many diverse industrial and military applications. The largest use of cobalt is in superalloys, which are used to make jet engine parts. Cobalt is also used in magnetic alloys and in cutting and wear-resistant materials such as cemented carbides. The chemical industry consumes significant quantities of cobalt in a variety of applications including catalysts for petroleum and chemical processing; drying agents for paints and inks; ground coats for porcelain enamels; decolourisers for ceramics and glass; and pigments for ceramics, paints, and plastics. The country contains 80 percent of the world's cobalt reserves.[40]

Economy

See main article: Economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although citizens of the DRC are among the poorest in the world, having the second lowest nominal GDP per capita, the Democratic Republic of Congo is widely considered to be the richest country in the world regarding natural resources; its untapped deposits of raw minerals are estimated to be worth in excess of US$ 24 trillion.[41] [42] [43]

The economy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a nation endowed with resources of vast potential wealth, has declined drastically since the mid-1980s. At the time of its independence in 1960, DRC was the second most industrialized country in Africa after South Africa, it boasted a thriving mining sector and its agriculture sector was relatively productive.[44] The two recent conflicts (the First and Second Congo Wars), which began in 1996, have dramatically reduced national output and government revenue, have increased external debt, and have resulted in deaths of more than five million people from war, and associated famine and disease. Malnutrition affects approximately two thirds of the country's population.

Foreign businesses have curtailed operations due to uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict, lack of infrastructure, and the difficult operating environment. The war has intensified the impact of such basic problems as an uncertain legal framework, corruption, inflation, and lack of openness in government economic policy and financial operations.

Conditions improved in late 2002 with the withdrawal of a large portion of the invading foreign troops. A number of International Monetary Fund and World Bank missions have met with the government to help it develop a coherent economic plan, and President Joseph Kabila has begun implementing reforms. Much economic activity lies outside the GDP data. A United Nations Human Development Index report shows human development to be one of the worst in decades.The economy of the second largest country in Africa relies heavily on mining. However, the smaller-scale economic activity occurs in the informal sector and is not reflected in GDP data.[45] The largest mines in the Congo are located in the Shaba province, in the South. The Congo is the world's largest producer of cobalt ore,[46] and a major producer of copper and industrial diamonds, the latter coming from the Kasai province in the West. The Congo has 70% of the world's coltan, and more than 30% of the world's diamond reserves.,[47] mostly in the form of small, industrial diamonds. The coltan is a major source of tantalum, which is used in the fabrication of electronic components in computers and mobile phones. In 2002, tin was discovered in the east of the country, but, to date, mining has been on a small scale.[48] Smuggling of the conflict minerals, coltan and cassiterite (ores of tantalum and tin, respectively), has helped fuel the war[49] in the Eastern Congo. Katanga Mining Limited, a Swiss-owned company, owns the Luilu Metallurgical Plant, which has a capacity of 175,000 tonnes of copper and 8,000 tonnes of cobalt per year, making it the largest cobalt refinery in the world. After a major rehabilitation program, the company restarted copper production in December 2007 and cobalt production in May 2008.[50] The Democratic Republic of Congo also possesses 50 percent of Africa's forests and a river system that could provide hydro-electric power to the entire continent, according to a U.N. report on the country's strategic significance and its potential role as an economic power in central Africa.[51] It has one of the twenty last ranks among the countries on the Corruption Perception Index.

In 2007, The World Bank decided to grant the Democratic Republic of Congo up to $1.3 billion in assistance funds over the next three years.[52]

The Democratic Republic of Congo is in the process of becoming a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).[53]

Demographics

See main article: Demographics of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ethnic groups

The United Nations 2009 estimated the population at 66 million people,[54] having increased rapidly despite the war from 39.1 million in 1992.[55] As many as 250 ethnic groups have been identified and named. The most numerous people are the Kongo, Luba, and Mongo. About 600,000 Pygmies are the aboriginal people of the DR Congo.[56] Although several hundred local languages and dialects are spoken, the linguistic variety is bridged both by widespread use of French and intermediary languages such as Kongo, Tshiluba, Swahili, and Lingala.

Migration

Given the situation in the country and the condition of state structures, it is extremely difficult to obtain reliable data. However, evidence suggests that DRC continues to be a destination country for immigrants in spite of recent declines. Immigration is seen to be very diverse in nature, with refugees and asylum-seekers – products of the numerous and violent conflicts in the Great Lakes Region – constituting an important subset of the population in the country. Additionally, the country's large mine operations attract migrant workers from Africa and beyond and there is considerable migration for commercial activities from other African countries and the rest of the world, but these movements are not well studied. Transit migration towards South Africa and Europe also plays a role. Immigration in the DRC has decreased steadily over the past two decades, most likely as a result of the armed violence that the country has experienced. According to the International Organization for Migration, the number of immigrants in the DRC has declined from just over 1 million in 1960, to 754,000 in 1990, to 480,000 in 2005, to an estimated 445,000 in 2010. Valid figures are not available on migrant workers in particular, partly due to the predominance of the informal economy in the DRC. Data are also lacking on irregular immigrants, however given neighbouring country ethnic links to nationals of the DRC, irregular migration is assumed to be a significant phenomenon in the country.Figures on the number of Congolese nationals abroad vary greatly depending on the source, from 3 to 6 million. This discrepancy is due to a lack of official, reliable data. Emigrants from the DRC are above all long-term emigrants, the majority of which live within Africa and to a lesser extent in Europe; 79.7% and 15.3% respectively, according to estimates on 2000 data. New destination countries include South Africa and various points en route to Europe. In addition to being a host country, the DRC has also produced a considerable number of refugees and asylum-seekers located in the region and beyond. These numbers peaked in 2004 when, according to UNHCR, there were more than 460,000 refugees from the DRC; in 2008, Congolese refugees numbered 367,995 in total, 68% of which were living in other African countries.

Status of women

See main article: Women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 2006 expressed concern that in the post-war transition period, the promotion of women's human rights and gender equality is not seen as a priority.[57]

In eastern Congo, the prevalence and intensity of rape and other sexual violence is described as the worst in the world.[5] A 2006 report by the African Association for the Defence of Human Rights prepared for that committee provides a broad overview of issues confronting women in the DRC in law and in daily life.[58]

The war has made the life of women more precarious. Violence against women seems to be perceived by large sectors of society to be normal.[59] In July 2007, the International Committee of the Red Cross expressed concern about the situation in eastern DRC.[60] A phenomenon of 'pendulum displacement' has developed, where people hasten at night to safety. According to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence, Yakin Ertürk, who toured eastern Congo in July 2007, violence against women in North and South Kivu included 'unimaginable brutality'. 'Armed groups attack local communities, loot, rape, kidnap women and children, and make them work as sexual slaves,' Ertürk said.[61]

In December 2008 GuardianFilms of The Guardian released a film documenting the testimony of over 400 women and girls who had been abused by marauding militia.[62]

In June 2010, UK aid group Oxfam reported a dramatic increase in the number of rapes occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While researchers from Harvard discovered that rapes committed by civilians had increased seventeenfold.[63]

Religion

See main article: Religion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Christianity is the majority religion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, followed by about 96% of the population. Animism accounts for 0.7%.[64]

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Central Intelligence Agency. [https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cg.html Congo, Democratic Republic of the]. The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Langley, Virginia. 2011. 5 October 2011.
  2. Web site: Democratic Republic of the Congo. International Monetary Fund. 21 April 2011.
  3. Web site: Human Development Report 2011. 2011. United Nations. 3 November 2011.
  4. See "Rumblings of war in heart of Africa" by Abraham McLaughlin and Duncan Woodside The Christian Science Monitor 23 June 2004 and "World War Three" by Chris Bowers My Direct Democracy 24 July 2006
  5. News: Prevalence of Rape in E.Congo Described as Worst in World. Washington Post. 9 September 2007. 2 May 2010. Stephanie. McCrummen.
  6. News: Robinson. Simon. The deadliest war in the world. Time.com. 28 May 2006. 2 May 2010.
  7. News: Joe. Bavier. Congo War driven crisis kills 45,000 a month. Reuters. 22 January 2008. 2 May 2010.
  8. http://www.rescue.org/special-reports/congo-forgotten-crisis Report on the crisis
  9. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/specials/1624_story_of_africa/page51.shtml The East African slave trade
  10. Keyes, Michael. The Congo Free State – a colony of gross excess. September 2004.
  11. Hochschild, Adam (1999), King Leopold's Ghost, Mariner Books.
  12. "The Cambridge history of Africa: From the earliest times to c. 500 BC." John D. Fage (1982). Cambridge University Press. p.748. ISBN 0-521-22803-4
  13. King Leopold's Ghost, Adam Hochschild (1999) ISBN 0-618-00190-5 Houghton Mifflin Books
  14. "Jungle Shipwreck." Time 25 July 1960
  15. Web site: UN. Historylearningsite.co.uk. 30 March 2007. 2 May 2010.
  16. http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/2/5/4/6/0/pages254609/p254609-19.php "Hearts of Darkness"
  17. Web site: "Zaire: The Hoax of Independence", The Aida Parker Newsletter #203, 4 August 1997. cycad.com.
  18. Young, C. & Turner, T. (1985) The Rise and Decline of the Zairian State, p. 74. ISBN 978-0299101107
  19. News: Gbadolite, Adam Zagorin. 22 February 1993. Leaving Fire in His Wake: MOBUTU SESE SEKO. Time magazine. 19 October 2011.
  20. http://www.heritage.org/research/africa/upload/91612_1.pdf "Zaire's Mobutu Visits America," by Michael Johns, Heritage Foundation Executive Memorandum #239, 29 June 1989.
  21. Thom, William G. "Congo-Zaire's 1996–97 civil war in the context of evolving patterns of military conflict in Africa in the era of independence." Conflict Studies Journal at the University of New Brunswick, Vol. XIX No. 2, Fall 1999.
  22. News: Country Profiles. BBC News. 10 February 2010. 2 May 2010.
  23. News: Fessy. Thomas. Congo terror after LRA rebel raids. BBC News. 23 October 2008. 2 May 2010.
  24. News: thousands flee LRA in DR Congo. BBC News. 25 September 2008. 2 May 2010.
  25. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/31/opinion/31kristof.html Orphaned, Raped and Ignored
  26. http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/africa/butty-congo-war-death-toll-questioned-21jan10-82223332.html A New Study Finds Death Toll in Congo War too High
  27. News: Congo's Death Rate Unchanged Since War Ended. The New York Times. Lydia. Polgreen. 23 January 2008. 27 March 2010.
  28. http://ihl.ihlresearch.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewpage&pageid=2104 "IHL and Sexual Violence"
  29. "The victims' witness." The Guardian. 9 May 2008.
  30. http://www.icrc.org/Web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/views-from-field-report-240609/$File/Our-World-Views-from-DRC-I-ICRC.pdf DRC, Opinion survey 2009
  31. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article402970.ece Pygmies struggle to survive
  32. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/3869489.stm DR Congo Pygmies 'exterminated'
  33. Web site: Human Rights Watch: War Crimes in Kisangani. Hrw.org. 20 August 2002. 2 May 2010.
  34. [s:fr:Constitution de la transition de la République démocratique du Congo (2003)|Full text of constitution (French)]
  35. Book: Ludwig, Arnold M.. 2002. King of the Mountain: The Nature of Political Leadership. 72. 0813122333.
  36. Book: Nafziger, E. Wayne. Raimo Frances Stewart. 2000. War, Hunger, and Displacement: The Origins of Humanitarian Emergencies. 261. 0198297394.
  37. Book: Mesquita, Bruce Bueno de. 2003. The Logic of Political Survival. 167. 0262025469.
  38. http://www.assetrecovery.org/kc/node/f00029e9-7084-11de-aa2f-77980ee7d563.11 Court agrees to release Mobutu assets
  39. Book: Werve, Jonathan. 2006. The Corruption Notebooks 2006. 57.
  40. Web site: John Vandiver. An April 2009 report to Congress by the National Defense Stockpile Center. Stripes.com. 22 November 2010.
  41. Web site: DR Congo's $24 trillion fortune. - Free Online Library. Thefreelibrary.com. 22 July 2011.
  42. Web site: Congo with $24 Trillion in Mineral Wealth BUT still Poor. News About Congo. 15 March 2009. 22 July 2011.
  43. Web site: Kuepper. Justin. Mining Companies Could See Big Profits in Congo «. Theotcinvestor.com. 26 October 2010. 22 July 2011.
  44. Elle "pouvait se prévaloir
  45. Web site: Dublin. Research and Markets. 22 November 2010.
  46. Web site: Cobalt: World Mine Production, By Country. 30 June 2008.
  47. "DR Congo poll crucial for Africa" BBC News. 16 November 2006.
  48. News: Congo's Riches, Looted by Renegade Troops, New York Times, 11/15/08. The New York Times. Lydia. Polgreen. 16 November 2008. 27 March 2010.
  49. http://www.unwatchable.cc/the-true-story/what-is-happening-in-the-congo/ What is happening in the Congo?
  50. Web site: Katanga Project Update and 2Q 2008 Financials, Katanga Mining Limited, 8/12/08.
  51. Web site: John Vandiver. DR Congo economic and strategic significance. Stripes.com. 22 November 2010.
  52. News: World Bank Pledges $1 Billion to Democratic Republic of Congo. 10 March 2007. Voice of America. VOA News. 25 December 2008.
  53. Web site: OHADA.com: The business law portal in Africa. 22 March 2009.
  54. "Democratic Republic of the Congo". UNdata.
  55. "Zaire - Population". Library of Congress Country Studies.
  56. "Pygmies want UN tribunal to address cannibalism." Sydney Morning Herald. 23 May 2003.
  57. Web site: Concluding comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Democratic Republic of the Congo. PDF.
  58. Web site: Violence Against Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). PDF.
  59. Web site: UN expert on violence against women expresses serious concerns following visit to Democratic Republic of Congo.
  60. Web site: DRC: 'Civilians bearing brunt of South Kivu violence'. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has expressed concern over abuses against civilians, especially women and children, in South Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. It frequently receives reports of abductions, executions, rapes, and pillage..
  61. Web site: DRC: 'Pendulum displacement' in the Kivus.
  62. News: Rape in a lawless land. The Guardian. London. Christian. Bennett. 5 December 2008. 27 March 2010.
  63. Web site: Rapes 'surge' in DR Congo. Al Jazeera. 15 April 2010. 22 November 2010.
  64. Web site: Republique Démocratique du Congo Enquête Démographique et de Santé (EDS-RDC) 2007 [FR208] |format=PDF |date= |accessdate=22 July 2011}].